Stage 4 reading - Main idea

Learning intention

Students will learn to identify the main idea using the GIST process with increasingly complex imaginative, persuasive and informative texts.

Syllabus outcome (2022)

  • EN4-RVL-01: uses a range of personal, creative and critical strategies to read texts that are complex in their ideas and construction
  • EN4-URA-01: analyses how meaning is created through the use of and response to language forms, features and structures
  • EN4-URB-01: examines and explains how texts represent ideas, experiences and values

Syllabus outcome (2012)*

  • EN4-1A: responds to and composes texts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis, imaginative expression and pleasure
  • EN4-2A: effectively uses a widening range of processes, skills, strategies and knowledge for responding to and composing texts in different media and technologies.
  • EN4-3B: uses and describes language forms, features and structures of texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts.

*Note: Visit the Leading curriculum K-12 website for more information on the syllabus implementation timeline.

Understanding texts

  • UnT9: reads and views complex texts (see Text complexity) (comprehension); identifies the main themes or concepts in complex texts by synthesising key ideas or information (comprehension) ; summarises the text identifying key details only (comprehension); selects reading/viewing strategies appropriate to reading purpose (e.g. scans text for evidence) (process)

  • UnT10: reads and views complex or some highly complex  texts (See Text complexity) (comprehension); interprets abstract concepts integrating complex ideas (comprehension); integrates automatically a range of processes such as predicting, confirming predictions, monitoring, and connecting relevant elements of the text to build meaning (process)  

  • UnT11: reads and views highly complex texts (see Text complexity) (comprehension) ; explains assumptions, beliefs and implicit values in texts (e.g. economic growth is always desirable) (comprehension) ; strategically adjusts the processes of reading and viewing to build meaning according to the demands of tasks and texts (process)

NAPLAN item descriptors

The relevant NAPLAN item descriptors are included in the resource, available for download on this page.

Task outline

Full task descriptions are included in the resource, available for download on this page.

What is a main idea?

Students learn to identify main ideas and supporting ideas in texts.

Identifying main idea in informative texts

Student use the ‘GIST’ process to identify the main idea in information texts.

Identifying main argument in a persuasive text

Students learn to identify the difference between main idea and main argument in persuasive texts.

Generalisations and assumptions

Students learn to identify generalisations in texts and how to avoid making assumptions.

Identifying theme in a text

Students learn to identify and explain themes in texts.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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